Date PostedApril 7, 2014

Harbour Boats Serving Alcohol Face New Controls

According to senior NSW police, party boats on Sydney Harbour are unfairly exempt from the harsh liquor laws and regulations that apply to other licence venues, making them mere “pubs without rules”.

Apparently the party boats are causing huge problems for police by serving drinkers multiple shots causing people to become intoxicated while on the boat and then leaving them on wharves to cause trouble. Some of the boats carry up to 900 people and one police official said they were a “nightmare” for police.

An article on quoted the senior police official as saying

949206-9bbe1d38-910c-11e3-9900-6ae4ae41740d“Many go out for four and five hours at a time where people drink non-stop and then (they) turf them out at Darling Harbour and Circular Quay and then it’s our problem.’’

Staff on all boats must have a responsible service of alcohol certificate but go relatively unchecked because of the difficulty of policing what is happening on the vessel. “Scanning customers getting on the vessels would be a major help,’’ the officer said.


The police official said that most of these boat cruises dock at around 10pm to midnight. Even operators admit that there some “rogue” operators in the business. Most operators say they are doing the right thing and abiding by Responsible Service of Alcohol rules. The article on went on to explain:

“We have security guys on our vessels but there are a few operators out there who cater to the backpacker market and give a $50 all-you-can-drink package,’’ one employee of a well-known harbour vessel company said.

“They are pretty much no-holds-barred and they don’t care what goes on.’’


It is expected that party boats will also not escape the latest government crackdown on alcohol fuelled violence.

According to Hospitality Minister George Souris one of the measures to be introduced in the state will include regulating party boats more closely.

One party boat owner did not think that government should group party boats and pubs and clubs together when it comes to alcohol abuse and misconduct because boats were “safer” than other licensed venues. Good Time Harbour Cruises boss Chris was quoted as saying:

“We’re very wary we don’t want a volatile situation on a boat so it’s pretty much a code within the charter boat industry that we take exceptional control in alcohol usage,” he said.

“I’m not interested in making an extra five, 10, 20 bucks out of a person when they’re going to create havoc and start spewing all over the boat and there’s no area to kick them off.”


Whether you’re a licensee or work in a pub, club or on a party boat you have a responsibility to the community which begins with understanding what these responsibilities are. In order to learn the dos and donts of alcohol service, all licensees and employees of licenced venues must complete Responsible Service of Alcohol training, to ensure that your establishment does not come under the scrutiny of authorities. To learn more about the RSA course, visit our homepage today!


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Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning, OH&S training, and web strategy firm based in Little Edward St. Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia. Urban E-Learning provides compliance related online , Distance and Face-to-Face training products in the construction, hospitality and heavy vehicle transport sectors, to name a few. Examples include the White Card Construction induction course and the RSA - Responsible Service of Alcohol course. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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